`This is a pointless hair-splitting sophistry. The A9 …

Comment posted Economic development strategy for the west Highlands by newsroom.

`This is a pointless hair-splitting sophistry.

The A9 is the continuation of the M90 to Perth and runs through to Inverness, an east coast city on the other side of the Cairngorms which are eastern mountains.
Shortly after that, it then carries up the edge of the north east coast to Latheron where it cuts across the edge of the flow to Thurso.

The core issue here is that the A9 has nothing to do with the west and does not serve it.

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35 Responses to `This is a pointless hair-splitting sophistry. The A9 …

  1. Apologies for the geography lesson but . . .

    The A9 is not the East Coast road – that is the M90/A90 from Edinburgh to the East Coastcities of Dundee and Aberdeen. The A9 serves Inverness and the central Highlands.

    Why on earth do we want a bridge to Kerrera? Surely the Oban relief road (now scrapped or postponed for 5 years) is a higher priority.

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    • `This is a pointless hair-splitting sophistry.

      The A9 is the continuation of the M90 to Perth and runs through to Inverness, an east coast city on the other side of the Cairngorms which are eastern mountains.
      Shortly after that, it then carries up the edge of the north east coast to Latheron where it cuts across the edge of the flow to Thurso.

      The core issue here is that the A9 has nothing to do with the west and does not serve it.

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  2. But a bridge to the islands of Luing and Easdale would save the council hundreds of thousands of pounds and ensure their sustainability. Perhaps the same would apply to Kerrera.

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  3. Where are Argyll & Bute’s invisible men ? Cabinet Secretary Michael Russell MSP and Argyll resident Mike MacKenzie MSP
    It is past time this constituency had a local champion instesd of party stoogies as our representatives .

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  4. The problem here is not national political will; it is failure over generations to have a strategy and lack of finance at present.

    A & B C has to mortgage it’s assets to build the roads , the tunnels and the bridges in a deal with national government to pay an instalment repayment plan.

    If we open up Argyll and Bute they become the Fynest part of but integral to the Central Belt.

    Thereafter the possibilities are Awesome

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    • The problem IS lack of political will .Your attempt to blame previous generations will not wash .
      Don’t you remember the tremendous improvements carried out on the Loch Lomond stretch of road in the mid to late 80s for example ?
      Sadly ,now we have politicians empire building at Holyrood with road improvements a low priority , although I note there appears to be unlimited funding for turning perfectly good road signs into scrap to replace them with ones where gaelic is the lead language .
      Also there are millions of pounds of taxpayers money being spent on community buyouts .
      Clearly these are political choices made in Edinburgh .

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      • I for Ever: “road improvements a low priority”!!!! Get real (as younger, hipper people would say.
        M74 extension and upgrades; A9 upgrade; A77(M77) upgrades; Pulpit Rock tackled (at last); second Forth Road Bridge…. the list goes on. If anything the criticism against the Scottish Government (of all hues) is that it has been too eager to prioritise road improvements.

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        • Careful, Doc, or some of the usual suspects will misinterpret your comments as arguing against spending real money on sorting out the Rest & Be Thankful. By the way, on Malcolm’s subject of Gaelification of road signs, has anyone noticed how a rather ambitious wind farm developer with designs on offshore Fife has chosen to call their proposed megadevelopment Neart na Gaoithe? When did Fife fishermen converse in Gaelic?

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        • All but the most blinkered will know that the road improvements you are claiming credit for on behalf of the administration in Edinburgh were conceived and largely executed before Salmond and co got their hands near the levers of power .
          As for the second Forth bridge crossing , we know most of the contracts eg for steel have gone outwith the country .
          This article is about the West Highlands and your intervention has only served to highlight the deplorable record of the SNP in our area . Clearly we will be better off staying in the UK along with Orkney and Shetland .

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          • Blinkered? Motes and Beams Ifor E. Note that i said of all hues. My point being that since devolution there has been considerable road building/improvement work in Scotland rather in contrast to your suggestion that road building ceased with the extinction of the Tory dinosaur.

            As to the West, Pulpit Rock was, last time I looked, in the West and very contemporary. The politicians are promising action on the Rest (and we will hold them to account on that).

            It must be a very disappointing world you live in IforE – nobody voting the way you want them to (in Scotland at least), 5 years of SNP government and still the sky hasn’t fallen. I genuinely pity you.

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    • Newsroom: “making the A83 a secure access to Argyll and the Isles”. The A83 will not take you to any isle, you need a ferry.

      Billions are being spent on the Forth road Bridge, you say another three billion is being spent on the A9 but what is happening on ferries?

      Comparatively paltry sums of money would revitalise the whole scottish Ferry fleet but as you said “There is no economic strategy whatsover for the development of the west” because, as you said “The current government has prioritised the east coast, with newly won constituencies in the major east coast cities to consider”.

      Ferry routes are the equivalent of motorways. Building wind turbine towers in Campbeltown currently makes little sense, do they have coal, steel, good transport links – no. With good sea transport maybe it would make sense.

      As for a bridge to Kerrera surely your mind is not closed to the possibilty of a tunnel which are so loved by our MSP and RW?

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      • Ferryman, the idea of a link to Kerrera would likely displease those inhabitants who prize the peace and quiet and lack of traffic – and development – there, but when you look at the physical constraints on the further development of Oban there’s a case to be made for ‘opening up’ Kerrera.
        There wouldn’t seem to be the same case for a tunnel as can be made between Dunoon and Gourock, unless the road approach on the Oban side would be better by tunnel, and surely a vehicle ferry like the one between Lerwick and Bressay would be adequate initially, unless development happened very fast. In the longer term a bridge might be justified, and there’d be unlikely to be the same row as has developed in Shetland, where the Lerwick harbour authority prefer a tunnel to a bridge to preserve the freedom of passage of tall oil & gas structures through the ‘north mouth’. As far as I know, nobody in Oban in their right mind envisages the need for that sort of traffic into the harbour.

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        • There is a case for a tunnel between Gourock and Dunoon is there. What would that be then, do you have some costs and estimates of usage?

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          • No, but if I had the money to buy you an educational tour of coastal Norway you might get to understand why it’s an option worth thorough investigation, rather than continuing to exercise a closed mind and – dare I say it – tunnel vision.

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          • RW our politicians and civil servants are not capable of introducing a passenger ferry service. Once they demonstrate some ability with small projects they might be fit to do something bigger, personally I am not going to hold my breath so I have no interest in extremely expensive bridges and tunnels.

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          • RW: The SNP government did not invest what £20M for the two vehicle ferries they promised for the Dunoon Gourock route, they then failed dismally to implement a passenger service.

            If the government will not invest that amount then it is not being closed minded to understand they are not going to spend billions on a tunnel. To think otherwise is just a fantasy. Has our MSP Mike Russel got any further with his vision, when do you expect he will?

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  5. Average Norwegian tunnel costs are around 3 million euros per kilometre lane. If you consider the ferry cost over the Clyde then it wouldn’t take long to pay it back with an eqivalent charge, but much more itopens up Cowal and Bute as well

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    • So is Mike Russell putting a tunnel under the Firth of Clyde forward then as Government policy? It was his idea and he is a Cabinet Minister, when can we expect an announcement, what is the target date for the opening ceremony – a tunnel would be beyond my wildest dreams, or is that what it is a daydream.

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  6. I’d certainly like to see a bit more info about the quoted price per kilometre lane for a tunnel as this figure seems absurdly cheap. What exactly is taken into account in this quoted figure? Capital expenditiure? Land purchase costs? New road construction cost? Disruption costs? Planning costs? Building and ventilation costs at each end? Etc, etc.

    And of course tunnels do require regular maintenance and upgrading. For example the Clyde tunnel had a an upgrade between March 2005 and 2007 at a cost of £12 million (almost as much as the original cap-ex). The Clyde tunnel has two tunnels each 762 metres (2,500 feet) long and the width of the river at this point is 123 metres. The Clyde tunnel is therefore approximatley six times the width of the river.

    The depth of the tunnel is of course governed by the depth of the water above it. It might be one thing to drill down below the Clyde for the short and relatively shallow tunnel in the upper reaches of the Clyde – quite another to drill down below the much wider and deeper Clyde at say the shortest crossing at the Gantock/Cloch.

    In fact the more you think aobut it (in order to avoid a very steep gradient what length would the tunnels have to be?? ) the more and more it sounds like a pipe-dream – much like the stupid idea of the second top priority for west coast development being a bridge to Kerrera.

    Either that or an attempt by a politician to fly a kite and deflect from his own Party’s broken promises.

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    • You dismiss it too easily Simon – it would be likely that on both sides a tunnel would extend a considerable way under land to achieve main road connections without major demolition and damage to the local communities – and to achieve acceptable gradients. The maximum depth of the Clyde between Dunoon and the Cloch seems to be around 50 fathoms, which – at say 92 metres – is quite deep but in Norway there’s a main road undersea tunnel dipping to 250 metres, so it’s clearly feasible.

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  7. “You dismiss it too easily Simon” Gimmie peace Robert. Let’s get some realsim in here. Most things are feasible – but only at a cost and as a rule oif thumb tunnels cost more than bridges.

    But accepting your figure for depth I would say without hesitation that if you think for one moment you could build a tunnel 92 metres down (300ft) which you laughingly describe as “quite deep” under the Clyde for a price of 3 million euros per kilometre lane you are indeed truly off your trolley.

    And, if anyone out there can be bothered to run this earth – if a 6% gradient in a tunnel (same as the Clyde) is acceptable – how far would you need to extend a tunnel with a depth of 300ft to achieve a 6% gradient? By my ‘off-the-top=-of-my-head-which-seems-to-be-the-same-place-as-Robert-got-his-costings-from – my reckoning the Greenock-Dunoon tunnel would start at Port Glasgow and surface in Argyll around the Tarsan Dam. Which might kinda defeat the purpose.

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    • Do your homework Simon, control your bile, and in your rush to sneer don’t start attributing the costings to the wrong person.
      Read up about Norwegian tunnels for the good of your education – I’m sure there’s plenty of info on the net, and there’s definitely a video of their first subsea tunnel, at Vardo, which goes down 88m. Yes the gradients can be steeper than those in the existing Clyde tunnel, but they’re designed to be manageable for all vehicles.
      I don’t bad-mouth you for what others have said.

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  8. Ooops Sorry Robert. If your water depth figure of 300 ft is correct you then have to go some way below that to acually construct your tunnel. And you also have the actual height of the tunnel itself to take into account. Probalby looking at bottom of tunnel depth* of between 350 – 400ft.

    *Taking this new depth into account the revised entrance for the Gourock- Dunoon tunnel is now nearer Bishopton than Port Glasgow and it now emerges around the head of Loch Striven.

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    • I don’t think the engineering is really a problem. The Japanese have a much deeper sub sea railway tunnel (The Seikan Tunnel at 250m). The real constraints would be finance against the social benefit costs of the tunnel). The main impetus for the Japanese tunnel was safety: too many ferries were sinking in typhoons. Mind you, I would be a bit alarmed to be in the tunnel during an earthquake!

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      • The practicality of building tunnels will depend on the water depth and the type of rock. Are there not fault lines around here?

        These are major construction projects, the £3m/km quoted seems way, way to low.

        The Norwegian tunnels have a payback period of 15 years, paid by tolls. The public pay 40% and the government pays the remaining 60%. The amount the public have to pay per crossing is roughly 20% ABOVE the ferry price.

        So big investment, high costs, long time periods – but you end up with important infrastructure.

        Our politicians and civil servants are just not up to the job. Mike Russell MSP just floated the idea to distract attention from his problems with the Dunoon Ferry and the A83.

        Info on tunnels:
        http://www.ita-aites.org/fileadmin/filemounts/e-news/doc/ITANews11/TUST_OS_2005_nordic.pdf

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        • Whatever you think of Mike Russell, Ferryman, it’s twisting things to retreat from your stance that anyone mentioning tunnels is a raving loony – but then conjure up a reason to still condemn Mike Russell for mentioning them.

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          • If you read one of my earlier posts I said I would be delighted if a tunnel was put in. However I am a realist not a fantasist. The did not manage to put in a simple reliable passenger ferry.

            Our MSP’s vision was of trains going under the sea to Ireland. Cloud cuckoo land. Either he was trying to divert attention or he was writing his blog late at night when perhaps its best not to write blogs.

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  9. Robert. Please accept my unreserved apologies. I was completely wrong and you are correct. The figures did not come from you, they came from Graeme.

    That said – I would agree with “doc” the costs of such a tunnel would appear to be prohibitive.

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    • Good thing you’ve yet to spot my plan for extending the railway from Gourock to Lochgilphead, but on further thought I wonder if a modest tax on increased real estate values wouldn’t go a considerable way to paying for this, or a road tunnel to Dunoon.

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